by Stefan Stenudd



Tetrabiblos

Ancient Astrology According to Ptolemy

Ptolemy, in Margarita Philosophica by Gregor Reisch, 1503.

Ptolemy, in Margarita Philosophica by Gregor Reisch, 1503.


Western astrology counts its origin at least back to Babylonian times. But the primary source to classical astrology and the components of the complete horoscope is Tetrabiblos by the famous mathematician Ptolemy of the 2nd century AD.



       What he stated in his text still stands in the 21st century.

       Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90- 168 AD) was a Roman citizen of Greek ascent, famous in the history of science for his accomplishments in mathematics and astronomy. His importance in astrology is usually not dwelled upon in the history books, but the components of our horoscopes stem from his treatise on the subject.

       Tetrabiblos is the veritable bible of astrology. "Biblos" in the title is the same word as bible, but it really just means book. "Tetra" is four, so the title simply says that it's a text of four books. We would say chapters. It explains quite straightforwardly the components of the complete horoscope - Zodiac signs, planets, astrological Houses, and the major aspects. Ptolemy's explanations as to their meanings have not been altered much since.

       Still, like most of the Ancient Greek literature, the text was lost to us until its first translation from Arabic in 1138, after which it spread like a plague. I would say, though, that the teaching of his text was kept alive among astrologers also in the many centuries when they didn't have access to the whole book.

       Although the basics of astrology as taught by Ptolemy - and he was certainly not the first to pass them on - remain the same, some components have been added since his time.

       Ptolemy and his predecessors knew of no other planets than the ones visible to the naked eye, which are the ones out to Saturn. With the invention and improvement of binoculars and telescopes, new planets were discovered: Uranus in the 18th century, Neptune in the 19th, and Pluto in the 20th. They have been given their astrological meanings much from the "zeitgeist" and world events of the times of their discoveries. Ptolemy knew nothing of them, of course.

       Also, long after his demise, alternate House systems have been introduced. He practiced Equal House, which means 30 for each House, starting from the Ascendant. Placidus de Titis (16031668) invented the House system named after him, which is actually more at use than the Ptolemy Equal House in present time. It puts the cusp of the 10th House at the MC (Medium Coeli) and allows for different sizes of the Houses. Johannes Regiomontanus (1436-1476) had done so more than a hundred years previously, but his slightly different House system is not that common today.

       Ptolemy mentioned only the five major aspects in his Tetrabiblos: the conjunction, the opposition, the trine, the square, and the sextile. Since then, several others have been introduced, such as the quincunx (150), the quintile (72), and on and on. Although the aspects have multiplied, there is still consensus among astrologers about the five Ptolemaic aspects being the most important ones.

       Apart from these later discoveries and inventions, Ptolemy's horoscope definitions remain.

Tetrabiblos by Ptolemy.        If you are interested in classical astrology, I recommend reading Ptolemy. You will find just how little has really changed through the many centuries. His writing is quite clear and definitely sharp, so you will enjoy it. The image to the right is a link to the Amazon page for his book in the Loeb series. There are several translations of Tetrabiblos, but as with all the Greek and Roman classics, the Loeb Library contains the most trustworthy and authoritative translations.

       When you've read Tetrabiblos by Ptolemy, you are right at home with all the Western astrologers through the centuries since his day. They all based their horoscopery on his principles. We still do.






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COMPLETE HOROSCOPE


How to Make Your Own Horoscope


Your Health Horoscope


Sex in Your Horoscope


Zodiac Archetypes


Financial Astrology


Daily Horoscope Guide - What to Expect


Tetrabiblos - the Ancient Astrology Bible



HOROSCOPE BASICS


Zodiac - the "how" of the horoscope


Planets - the "what" of the horoscope


Houses - the "where" of the horoscope


Aspects - the "why" of the horoscope



FAMOUS HOROSCOPES


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The USA Horoscope - Finding and Reading It



PREDICTIONS


Future of the Internet


The Age of Aquarius


2017 World Horoscope


USA 2016 Election


Mundane Pluto - Its Effect on Society


Mundane Neptune - Its Effect on the Arts



MISC


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Disappearing Ascendant - Latitude Effects


The Envelope Chart - How It Looked Before


Zodiac Sign Astrology


Your 2017 Horoscope


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ZODIAC SIGNS

Twelve websites devoted to each of the Zodiac signs and their traits.

Aries Zodiac Sign

Aries


Taurus Zodiac Sign

Taurus


Gemini Zodiac Sign

Gemini


Cancer Zodiac Sign

Cancer


Leo Zodiac Sign

Leo


Virgo Zodiac Sign

Virgo


Libra Zodiac Sign

Libra


Scorpio Zodiac Sign

Scorpio


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Sagittarius


Capricorn Zodiac Sign

Capricorn


Aquarius Zodiac Sign

Aquarius


Pisces Zodiac Sign

Pisces




MY OTHER DIVINATION SITES

Tarot Card Meanings

Tarot Card Meanings. Website by Stefan Stenudd. Try the old Tarot deck of cards with a free online divination. How to use the Tarot and what each card means.



I Ching Online

I Ching Online. Website by Stefan Stenudd. Try the ancient Chinese divination online for free. The 64 hexagrams of I Ching, The Book of Change, and what they mean in divination.




MY ASTROLOGY BOOK

Your Health in Your Horoscope. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Your Health in Your Horoscope

This book by Stefan Stenudd explains what your horoscope says about your health, according to the old tradition of medical astrology.

       You learn what the zodiac signs, the planets, and the other ingredients of the horoscope reveal about many health issues and different types of illnesses. Also, celebrity horoscope charts are used to show how a health reading is made.

       The book contains a quick introduction to astrology, as well, and instructions on how to read a birth chart in general. Click the image to see the book (and Kindle ebook) at Amazon.




OTHER BOOKS OF MINE

Tarot Unfolded. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Tarot Unfolded

This book presents an imaginative method of reading the divination cards, which is the most appropriate for the Tarot, since it consists of symbolic images. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.



Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Cosmos of the Ancients

All the philosophers of Ancient Greece and what they thought about cosmology, myth, religion and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.



Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Life Energy Encyclopedia

Qi (chi), prana, pneuma, spiritus, and all the other life force concepts around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.



Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd.

Sunday Brunch with
the World Maker

Fiction. A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.




Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction.

About me

I'm a Swedish astrologer, author and historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. My personal website:


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